Holmdel, N.J. - Eight goals has been the magic number for the Holmdel High School boys lacrosse team all season and the Hornets scored exactly that to defeat Voorhees in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 Tournament.
Now 11-0 on the season when scoring eight goals or more in a contest, the No. 8 seeded Hornets rolled to a 8-4 victory over No. 9 seeded Voorhees to advance to their first sectional quarterfinal since 2011.
“I’m really happy for the team,” said Holmdel boys lacrosse coach Brendan Quinn. “We’re a group that gets better and better as we go along. We played a complete game against a really good team.”
Defense dictated the action for all but most of the first half, with both offenses having trouble scoring.
Voorhees broke through for the only score of the first quarter on a goal from Jack Jeskulski to grab an early 1-0 lead.
Holmdel got things going a bit offensively in the second quarter thanks to Ryan Bradley.
Fighting through contact on his way to the net, Bradley slashed in Holmdel’s first goal of the contest to tie things up at 1-1 with 8:02 to play in the first half .
Bradley struck once again for the Hornets just over a minute later.
Receiving a nice pass from Justin Cohen behind the net, Bradley circled into the Voorhees zone and knocked in his second goal of the quarter with 6:41 left in the first half to give Holmdel a 2-1 lead.
“It gave us some energy I feel,” Bradley said on his two goals. “I feel like everyone on this team has an important role and it’s great to get everyone involved.”
Defense continued to control the pace the rest of the first half, keeping the Hornets up 2-1 going into halftime.
The Holmdel offense began to spark up the third quarter with Tom Ilvento showing off his nice shooting moves to extend the Hornets lead to two.
Off a nice pass from Kyle Kapcsos, Ilvento made a behind the back shot that lasered into the net for his team-leading 35th goal of the season.
Kapcsos added in his first goal of the contest moments later to make it a 4-1 lead for the Hornets.
The freshman now has 33 goals on the season for Holmdel.
Dan Tempone made it five unanswered goals for the Hornets, getting a sweet feed at the top of the circle from Cohen behind the net and rocketing in his first score of the day to put Holmdel up 5-1 with 5:16 to go in the third quarter.
A Ben Hemberger score ended the Holmdel run moments later, but Cohen helped get Holmdel rolling again to finish out the third quarter.
Barrelling his way to the net, Cohen tallied home his first goal of the game to put Holmdel back up four.
After Voorhees cut the Holmdel lead down to three again on a goal by Fred Clucas with 38 seconds left in the third quarter, Cohen responded once again on behalf of the Hornets.
Powering his way to the net again, the senior was able to fight through and score his second goal of the game with 11 seconds left in third quarter to put Holmdel up 7-3.
“I got to credit my teammates for both goals,” Cohen said. “Both came on transition or off a loose ball and they were able to get me the ball and I took advantage of it.”
Cohen leads the team with 29 assists this season.
Jason Knoll helped Voorhees cut the Holmdel to three again with 6:05 to play. Holmdel possessed the ball most of the way in the final five minutes of the contest with Tempone icing the game with possibly his last goal on Bob Roggy Memorial Field for the Hornets with 2:01 left to play.
Taking it all the way around the net and into the crease, Tempone gave Holmdel three players with two goals on the day to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals for the Hornets.
“They were pressuring out on me, so I just took it to the cage and put it in,” Tempone said. “Never winning a playoff game in your high school career and to be able to win one meant everything.”
Tempone added an assist in the win and now has 33 goals on the season.
Holmdel goalkeeper Nick Tuccillo was rock solid in net as usual, racking up eight saves in the win.
The Hornets defense has only allowed eight goals in the last three games.
“I’ve told the [defense] all season that as a unit, we’re going to get better every single game,” Quinn said. “This game was another example of that. They do a great job communicating out there and making adjustments on the fly during the game. Very proud of them.”
Holmdel is now 12-6 on the season and will play Rumson-Fair Haven in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
A young team with a new head coach, Holmdel has continued to prove this year that they are a good team and got the goal they wanted by winning a state playoff game.
“It’s really nice,” Quinn said. “I’m really happy for the boys. It’s a long season. They worked very hard for this. This was something they’ve had their eye on. They practiced well and that translated on the field.”
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